BEGGARS AND CHOOSERS: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in America

Rickie Solinger, Author . Hill & Wang $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9702-9

Feminists need a paradigm shift, argues Solinger (Wake Up Little Susie, The Abortionist), away from the post–Roe v. Wade concept of "choice" and back to the '60s concept of "rights," based on the approach of the civil rights movement, which argued that all citizens were entitled to vote, for instance, regardless of class status. "Choice" evokes a marketplace model of consumer freedom, she explains, while rights are privileges to which one is justly and irrevocably entitled as a human being. The shift from the language of rights to that of choice was deliberate, aimed at reducing the federal welfare tab and increasing the pool of adoptable children, which began to diminish after the early 1970s, Solinger argues. Once the pill and legal abortion were available, poor women could be considered "bad choice-makers" if they kept having babies they couldn't afford—hardly the government's responsibility. (Never mind, Solinger observes, that many poor women can't afford either option and might want children, just as middle-class women do.) Is this progress? No, Solinger writes: "women with inadequate resources... must... have the right to determine for themselves whether or not to be mothers. " With its crisp, jargon-free prose and copious footnotes, Solinger's reexamination of those twin bogeys—the Back Alley Butcher and the Welfare Queen—is a provocative read for any modern feminist. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8090-2860-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-0752-5
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